The Hague, 16 October 2013
Eurojust’s seminar was held in The Hague on 14 and 15 October, in light of the Commission’s Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust). The goal of the revision of Eurojust’s legal framework is to use the new possibilities under the Lisbon Treaty, and enhance Eurojust’s efficiency in the fight against cross-border crime.
The seminar followed a multi-disciplinary approach, combining academic and practitioner perspectives and viewpoints from national representatives of the 28 Member States. More than 150 representatives from the national authorities of the Member States and EU institutions: the European Commission (including OLAF), the Council, the European Parliament, the Joint Supervisory Body of Eurojust, the European Data Protection Supervisor, Eurojust’s National Members and administration and representatives of Europol attended.
Keynote speakers and participants engaged in a lively exchange of views and ideas during workshops and panel debates:
Structure and governance of Eurojust
Changes have been introduced to the structure and governance of Eurojust to enhance its efficiency by reducing the administrative burden on National Members and supporting their focus on Eurojust’s core business: casework. The draft proposes a division between management-related supervisory and executive roles and the operational role in judicial support functions. Participants debated the scope, requirements and added value of these roles.
Tasks, competence and powers
Although the possibilities offered by Article 85 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to grant Eurojust additional powers have not been fully exploited, participants felt that the changes proposed in the form of a Regulation will have a decisive impact. The proactive dimension of Eurojust’s mandate was supported. In addition, some degree of flexibility regarding Eurojust’s competence for other types of offences than those included in the proposed list was argued to be in line with the spirit of Article 85 TFEU.
Relations with third States and EU partners
Participants expressed the opinion that Eurojust must be perceived as a global actor in international criminal justice and a “one-stop shop” between Member States and third States in judicial cooperation and information exchange in cases with links beyond the EU’s borders. In this context, the revision of the external relations regime was discussed and the need for further clarification was raised, inter alia, regarding the interpretation of the term “working arrangements”. Liaison Magistrates and contact points have been confirmed as valuable bridges to third States.
Mirroring provisions on information exchange in the Eurojust and Europol draft Regulations were seen as essential for effectiveness in operational cooperation in line with both complementary mandates.
The draft proposal is silent regarding the streamlining of cases between Eurojust and the European Judicial Network. Participants mentioned in this context the filter function via the Eurojust National Coordination Systems.
Relations between Eurojust and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO)
Opinions were expressed on the necessity to avoid duplication of tasks and the potential diminution of the effectiveness of Eurojust as a consequence of an unbalanced transfer of resources to a future EPPO dealing solely with crimes adversely affecting the EU’s financial interests. The design of a future EPPO is and will be at the centre of negotiations in the coming months, and Eurojust’s operational and administrative support capacities will require careful attention. The need for respecting the complementarity to the mandate of Eurojust as the judicial cooperation and coordination unit of the European Union was underlined.
Participants were in general agreement that Eurojust’s strength lies in its coordinating role in a landscape of police and judicial cooperation between 28 Member States of the European Union with 32 different legal systems and 24 working languages. Eurojust’s unique tool of coordination meetings, bringing together both law enforcement and judicial authorities, allowing for strategic, informed and targeted operations and the resolution of legal and practical difficulties, was seen as providing true added value in the fight against cross-border crime.
Michèle Coninsx, President of Eurojust, concluded the seminar by saying: “The proposal on Eurojust might not be a revolutionary step forward, but we are going in the direction of a positive evolution. This stimulating conference has ended, but the inspiring debate has just begun. Eurojust is highly motivated and ready to actively participate and contribute with its experience from a practitioner’s point of view in the shaping of Eurojust’s future.”
For more information, please contact:
Ms Leen DE ZUTTER – Press & PR Service
EUROJUST – Maanweg 174, 2516 AB, The Hague, Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 412 5508